It is a serious jolt to the Lightning Bolt. Of that, there can be no doubt. A month out from the London Olympics, the untouchable, unearthly star of the 2008 Games in Beijing has been left playing catch up after being beaten in his own back yard by his own training partner.
In the 100m final at the Jamaican Olympic Trials in Kingston Bolt paid the price for showing his Achilles heel. The fastest man in history has been sluggish out of the starting blocks all summer and this time he got caught napping big time, leaving himself with too much ground to make up on Yohan Blake.
Bolt clawed his way through to second with a late surge but couldn't catch the 22-year-old stablemate who succeeded him as world champion when he false started in Daegu last summer. Blake won in 9.75sec, a lifetime best and the fastest time in the world this year, eclipsing the 9.76sec that Bolt clocked at the Diamond League meeting in Rome in May. Bolt was runner up in 9.86sec, with Asafa Powell third in 9.88sec.
The worrying thing for Bolt was the margin of defeat – 0.11sec, a not insignificant gap in sprinting terms. If he wasn't entirely sure about it beforehand, the 25-year-old Jamaican phenomenon now knows he has serious work to do before the defence of his Olympic 100m crown on 5 August.
He also has Blake – the Montego Bay boy who calls himself "The Beast" – to face in the 200m before the national trials finish in Kingston. Bolt has not lost at that distance since September 2007.
"I thought it was a good race but everybody kept moving in the blocks and that kind of threw me off," Bolt said. "I had trouble getting out, but I kept feeling like I could not give up.
"I think overall I executed through the first 60m but the last part not so good. Overall it was okay.
"For me, it is just one of those things."
Blake said: "No pressure at all... everything is good. I'm just fortunate."
He called his time "awesome" and added: "I won the World Championship, so I've got that. Now, I'm the national champion for Jamaica, so I've got that.
"Now I'm ready to go to the Olympics like this."
This was their first real race between them since Daegu last summer. Apart from Bolt's false start disqualification at that World Championships, he has lost just one 100m race since his world record spree in Beijing four years ago. That was to Tyson Gay in Stockholm in August 2010, when he was suffering from an injury that curtailed his season.
He did lose to Asafa Powell a month out from the Beijing Olympics but that was by a mere 0.01sec. Again, it came after a poor start.
Glen Mills, the veteran sprint coach who guides both Bolt and Blake at the Racers Track Club in Kingston, conceded that Blake was ahead of the game in terms of Olympic preparation. "We didn't send him to Europe and he is in far better shape than Bolt at this time," Mills said. "We are right where we want to be going into London. We just want to keep them healthy.
"We have four weeks and we will take it in our stride. We know what to do, so we'll get there. Bolt is a tough cookie and I think he will survive this."
It was only three weeks ago that Bolt walked away unharmed from a 5.15am car crash after attending a party with Powell on his return to Jamaica from the European circuit. He knows he needs to get serious if he is to deal with the threat of his burgeoning beast of a training partner.
Already second to Bolt on the world all-time list at 200m, Blake is now also the fourth fastest 100m runner in history. Only Bolt (9.58sec), Gay (9.69sec) and Powell (9.72sec) have been quicker.Reuse content